Ectoparasites | ESCCAP UK & Ireland

Ectoparasites

 

Ixodes Ricinus

Ectoparasites are parasites which inhabit the skin or coat of the host.

Ectoparasites are important because:

  • They may cause cutaneous lesions
  • They can induce immunopathological responses
  • They can transmit pathogens
  • They may infest people or transmit zoonotic infections
  • They may interfere with the human – animal bond
  • Their control is part of maintaining healthy pets


In addition the following factors have clinical implications:

  • Cutaneous lesions may lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections (Malassezia spp.) and various kinds of dermatitis
  • Transmitted pathogens may cause diseases (VBDs), that are, in many cases, of more clinical relevance than the actual ectoparasite infestation
  • The immune response induced, especially by ectoparasite saliva, may lead to allergic reactions with flea allergic dermatitis being the most important
  • Ectoparasite-infested pets may be a source of infestation for owners
  • The direct health implications of ectoparasite infestation can be more than skin deep: e.g. heavy blood-sucking arthropods can cause anaemia

 

Ectoparasites of dogs and cats belong to one of two groups:

  • Insecta
  • Acari

 

Insecta

The Group Insecta are parasites with:

  • chitinuous exoskeletons
  • three-part bodies (divided into head, thorax and abdomen)
  • three pairs of legs
  • compound eyes
  • two antennae

Insecta can be winged or wingless and may have further anatomical adaptations.

Insecta comprise the parasites:

fleas


Fleas
(of the Order Siphonaptera)

lice


Lice
(of the Order Phthiraptera)

flies


Flies
(mosquitoes, sandflies and biting flies)

Acari

The group Acari are a subgroup of arachnids with:

  • a single entity body mass
  • (larval stages) three pairs of legs
  • (nymphal and adult stages) four pairs of legs


Acari comprise the parasites:

ticks


Ticks

mites


Mites

 

 
Further information about these different Ectoparasites can be found by clicking the links above.

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